Select Committee on Environmental Audit Fifth Report

1  Introduction

1. Personal carbon trading has been the subject of academic study for over a decade, but it is yet to be seen as a truly viable policy. Its potential is undeniable, but this enticingly simple idea has grown into a tangle of different proposals and has come up against genuine obstacles. However, where incentives to useful behavioural change by individuals remain disappointingly elusive, personal carbon trading has great potential as a policy tool.

2. In July 2006 David Miliband, appearing before our Committee as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, called for a 'thought experiment' on the idea, where the challenges could be explored and the concept tested against other proposals.[1] Defra developed a plan to research possible schemes in further detail, and personal carbon trading found a place on the political agenda. We hope that this Report contributes not only to the 'thought experiment' but also advances the prospect of personal carbon trading becoming a genuine policy option.

3. Thinking on personal carbon trading is still evolving; there is a need for further research and our conclusions reflect this. We have not attempted to address all of the practicalities of making a personal carbon trading scheme work; rather, we have focused on assessing the value of the concept, and how it can be made both politically and publicly acceptable.

4. We are grateful to all those who submitted evidence to the inquiry or appeared before us; their names are published at the end of this Report.

1   Oral evidence taken before the Environmental Audit Committee on 19 July 2006, HC (2005-06) 1452, Q 293 Back

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